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San Juan del Sur

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San Juan del Sur
Beautiful sunset

San Juan del Sur is a port on the Pacific coast of southwestern Nicaragua.

Understand[edit]

This beautiful fishing village turned tourist town boast surfing, fishing, affordable hotels and good food variety enveloped by natural splendor. The sunsets are legendary and so is the nightlife with a variety of lively bars and restaurants along the coastal road and more adventure within town.

Get in[edit]

By bus[edit]

From Rivas bus station connect to the bus that runs regularly to San Juan del Sur.

From Costa Rica catch the bus headed for Rivas at the border and tell the driver you want to get off at La Virgen. Then cross the Pan-American highway and wait for the next bus to San Juan Del Sur. They run every 45 minutes, so it won’t be long.

From Granada (Nicaragua) or Masaya take the bus to Rivas (approx 2hrs), then transfer to the bus or taxi to San Juan del Sur.

From Managua take the express bus from Managua at the Mercado Huembes (that’s pronounced “whem-base”) every day at 4pm. After only 2½ hours you’ll arrive in San Juan Del Sur. Or from Mercado Huembes take any bus heading for Rivas (approx 3hrs).

By taxi[edit]

From Rivas take a taxi or the bus directly to San Juan del Sur. It is about a 1/2 hour ride. "Colectivo" taxis cost 50 cordobas per person, or 200 cordobas if solo.

By car[edit]

From Managua Airport If you are coming straight from the airport. It is much faster to cut via Tipitapa than trough Managua. Take Masaya highway out of Managua and head south on the Pan-American highway. After you pass Rivas, be on the lookout for the turnoff for San Juan del Sur.

Get around[edit]

Walk. The town is small. There are also constant offers of "Taxi, Sir?". Some hotels have shuttle service to other beaches, or call Carlos Rivera taxis private phone 505 86180261. There are a number of beaches north and south of town. Shuttles or pangas can be arranged through surf shops, or rent an ATV or motorcycle (roads are dirt and frequently in bad condition). Taxis can be taken to or from the border of Costa Rica for about $20.

See[edit][add listing]

DSC02943.JPG
  • There are many brightly colored houses which land on every tourist's camera but that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to San Juan del Sur's beauty.
  • The waterfront is a joy and small boats bob at anchor in the harbor as pelicans swoop down to perch on their bows.
  • The walk up to the statue overlooking the harbor is an arduous 20-minute trek, but the vistas of the harbor are spectacular.
  • There are dozens of spectacular remote beaches both north and south of downtown where pounding surf and dramatic rock formations await the intrepid shutterbug.
  • There is a light house that no longer resembles a light house. But the point is not the destination, rather the journey. The view of the coast and the bay of San Jan de Sur is amazing. To get there, pass through the small port entrance, find the overseer of the property where the light house is and convince him you won't take pictures of anything. If he lets you pass, keep your promise.
  • Take a day trip water taxi to Playa Madera, north of San Juan de Sur for $8. Sign up at the stand in front of Hotel Estrella. It leaves about 10AM and returns at 4PM. The boat ride is about half an hour. Playa Madera can also be accessed via taxi, that costs around $10-$15 for two people. The drive can be difficult, and you may encounter hills where your cab driver will ask you to get out and walk up the hill. In addition to the beaches to the north of San Jan del Sur, there are some great beaches to the south (including Playa del Coco), which are less accessible but afford more privacy.

Do[edit][add listing]

Its very laid back here, spend some time in town hanging out, talking with locals and other tourists, eating and drinking. There are many beaches great for surfing.

  • Surf
  • Rent bicycles and explore the smaller beaches to the south and north. They cost $5 per day to rent, but are not in very good condition.
  • A zip-line canopy tour can get you up into the treetops, and spider monkeys and other natural life abound in the region.

Local Businesses[edit]

  • Beach Front Rentals, (Across from Eskimo Ice Cream on the beach), +505 568 2030. Offers ATV guided tours through the mountains and to the beaches or if you'd rather go by sea try their 2008 3-seater waverunners. If you have kids, pull them along on tubes.  edit
  • Bodhin Adventure Services, [1]. A local group that provides Wellness Inspired Adventures, "Green" Yoga Retreats/ Yoga Teacher Training, Aquatic Getaways such as SCUBA diving, snorkeling and surfing on the best surfing beaches and kayaking or kite surfing on one of the largest fresh-water lakes in Central America. They serve as a local concierge and also offer intimate, budget-sensitive itineraries as well. Bodhin also produces the largest mountain bike race in the region, called 'the Howler' with 100% of the proceeds going directly to local charities. Website: www.sanjuanhowler.com  edit
  • Chicabrava Surf Camp, Edificio Chicabrava, calle frente al mar (1/2 block north of Eskimo Ice Cream, beach front road), (713)893-5260, [2]. Elite surf camp for adventurous women who appreciate comfort as well as challenge. Daily surf lessons, board rentals, and a variety of surf/travel packages, which include surfing world class waves, spectacular accommodations, authentic local cuisine, yoga, soothing massage, and a variety of exciting activities in a safe environment. $30 and up.  edit
  • Rancho Chilamate Horseback Adventures, Escamequita, San Juan del Sur (10 km south of San Juan del Sur), 8-755-6475, [3]. A private, solar powered ranch with happy, healthy horses and good tack, includes English guide and a photo shoot of your ride and a contribution to the local community fund is included. They specialize in guided horseback tours through rural Nicaragua to the spectacular nearby beaches.  edit
  • San Juan del Sur Biblioteca Movil, adjacent to the church and park, 011-505-568-2338, [4]. The SJDS Biblioteca Movil is the first lending library in Nicaragua, providing books, information, technology, and community center services to the people of San Juan del Sur and its surrounding communities. Books available in Spanish and English. Spend time volunteering in the library or with the mobile book van; check at the library for activities.  edit
  • Spa del Sur, 1/2 block south of the municipal mercado, (505) 8381-7671, [5]. Full service day spa offering world-class massage therapy, manicures, pedicures, facials, waxing, body scrubs and more.  edit
  • Surf Ranch Paintball (Surf Ranch Paintball), [6]. 1 acre jungle paintball course, gear rental, snack shop at the Surf Ranch Action Sports Resort. Drop in or join weekly paintball competitions to win cash prizes.  edit
  • Surf Ranch Airbag Freestyle Drop, san juan del sur, nicaragua (at surf ranch action sports resort), 505-8816-8748, [7]. 1-5pm. Nicaragua's only tower drop to giant inflatable air bag for jumping, flipping and skateboarding into. 12ft and 20ft drops. Mini mega launch ramp for skateboards, bikes, snowboards and skis (artificial snow)...coming soon. $10.  edit
  • Zen Yoga Nicaragua (San Juan del Sur's Yoga Studio), next to the Park. Across from Pizzeria San Juan (kitty corner to the park and church square through the bamboo gates of the plant nursery), 505.8465.1846, [8]. 7 to 7 M-F and 9-noon S/S. San Juan del Sur's first yoga studio. Don't miss the beautiful experience of our two story yoga space. Practice with a view of the church and town from above on the second level of our stunning yoga studio. Zen offers multiple classes daily with highly trained instructors. Drop in classes include a cup of tea and use of yoga mat. Class packages are available and can be shared among your group. Inquire about private and small group sessions. Our massage space is tranquil and inviting and here you can find Thai, Swedish, deep tissue and Reiki massage by certified massage therapists. ~Namaste $8 drop-in/class, packs available.  edit

Learn[edit]

Learn Spanish in the local Spanish schools in town, Spanish Ya [9], Nica Spanish [10] and San Juan del Sur Spanish school [11], SOL Spanish School [12] and Nicaragua Spanish Schools [13]. All of them with very competitive prices and good experience in organizing the Spanish programs. Rivas Spanish School also offers classes in nearby [[Rivas].

Buy[edit][add listing]

This is a small town. There are increasingly more and more shops, and a market area that is aimed both at locals and at tourists with increasingly "American" prices. There's an English bookstore with a café in it, wide range of all kinds of different books, just ask your way around, it's not hard to find.

  • San Juan Surf (San Juan Surf), Beach Road (In the Nica Life Realty building), [14]. This is a shop for surf gear and apparel - The San Juan Surf T-shirts and caps have become a popular souvenir.  edit
  • NSR Surf Shop (NSR Surf Shop), (50 meters north of Texaco station off main road upon entering town), [15].  edit


Eat[edit][add listing]

There are a string of open air cafe/restaurants along the waterfront. They serve excellent fresh seafood. You get local breakfast offers in the market where there's a few little Sodas in a row.

  • Restaurant La Cascada (Located at Pelican Eyes Hotel & Resort), De la Parroquia 1½ cuadras al este (San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua), +505-2563-7000, [16]. 7AM-10PM daily (bar is open until 11PM). Serving unique international and Nicaraguan gourmet fare, guests are invited to dine al fresco by the pool or at a candlelit, ocean-view table in the open-air dining room overlooking the cobalt-blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner features signature dishes using only the freshest local ingredients. Enjoy fish and seafood fresh from the sea, locally grown garden vegetables, freshly-baked bread, and delicious local and imported meats, handcrafted pastries and desserts. A poolside menu for snacks and light lunches is offered.  edit
  • El Calibri. Run by a British expatriate and her Italian husband, this wonderful restaurant serves a delicious Mediterranean inspired menu, along with a coconut milk curry. Located in a little house filled with fantastic curios and sense of warmth and color, this restaurant caters mainly to a tourist cliental and fills up everynight. The Sangria is to die for!  edit
  • La Veranera Pizza, Playa El Coco (30 minutes South of San Juan), 87601675. This new Pizza Pick-up and Delivery is the place to go when you are longing for a tasty Pizza that minimum feeds 2 people. As it is part of a guesthouse ask for Luise when knocking on the door.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

You are in Nicaragua, so drink Flor De Cana if you like rum. Drink Victoria or Toña if you prefer cervezas bien frias.

  • Irish bar, 2 blocks from the market, 8973-7855. A taste of Ireland with Guinness, a variety of whiskeys and Irish food. Free Wifi, two big screen TVs (football, boxing and rugby), poker nights and live music.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Budget[edit]

  • Casa Oro Hostel (Casa Oro), (Once you are in San Juan del Sur, it head west on Avenida del Parque), [17]. Casa Oro is a budget hostel in the center of San Juan del Sur and is only a block from the beach. Free breakfast in the morning with a different menu every day. There is free WiFi,computers and IPads for your use and a fully equipped kitchen.Private rooms available and English spoken.Daily shuttles to Playa maders and Hermosa USD $8 and Up.  edit
  • Hotel Estrella. Right on the beach, but the balconies are accessible from each other, and the doors are only lockable from the outside. Some have had to put a stone in front of the door just to keep it shut. There are stories of other people that said they had bats coming in the window, banging against the walls and falling on their beds. There is a very comfortable common room and the bedrooms are clean and with beautiful views of the Pacific. US$10 per person per night,.  edit
  • Hospedaje Eleonora. checkout: 11am. Nice guesthouse, probably the cheapest in town. Friendly owners, and nice basic rooms. Shared bathroom. US$8.  edit
  • Hostel Esperanza, 505-8325-5279, [18]. Inexpensive hostel, great location across from the beach. Owned by a Canadian expat. $7-15 US.  edit
  • Naked Tiger Hostel, k138 Carretera, Villa Borinque, San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua (Free shuttle from Barrio Cafe in town). checkin: 12pm; checkout: 12pm. The Naked Tiger Hostel is set in the lush hilltops of San Juan Del Sur, free regular shuttles transport you to and from town. Party hostel! US$10 for dorms.  edit
  • Pacha Mama, +505 9845769796, [19]. Party hostel, free breakfast, dorm rooms and private rooms available. They do not take reservations. Email: info@hostelpachamama.com US$10 for dorms.  edit
  • Planet Waves Nica B&B (planetwavesnica@yahoo.com), San Juan del Sur (150 meters from the beach), +505 83678797, [20]. checkin: 00; checkout: 00. Bed & breakfast with 2 double rooms and 1 room with bunk beds. All have private bathroom with hot water and A/C, breakfast included. Has 24hr security, internet, cable TV, DVD player and Playstation. US$10. (00,00) edit
  • Yajure Surf Hostel, Barrio la Talangera, Contiguo al puente, San Juan Del Sur 87206 (On the beach, just across the footbridge from town), +505 2568 2105, [21]. checkin: 12pm; checkout: 11am. Included in the price are hot showers, A/C at night, lockers, breakfast with fresh coffee, Wi-Fi internet and loads of travel advice to all our guests. Feel free to play DJ and blast your own tunes on our stereo system. Facilities include pool, bar, surfboard hire, nearby beach shuttles and more. US$10 for dorm, US$40+ for private.  edit

Mid-range[edit]

  • Aventura Lodge, (). There are 5 Jungle Suites available from $50 per night, 1 Canopy Apartment from $80 and 4 Tree House beds from $15. Breakfast is included and wireless internet is available. Cable TV and air-conditioning feature in all Jungle Suites and in the Canopy Apartment.  edit
  • Casa Ariki (Casa Ariki - San Juan del Sur), From the Mercado, 2 1/2 blocks south passing the park, (505) 2568 2620, [22]. Casa Ariki is a the nicest and cleanest hostel in town. It offers a laid-back environment, always with good music, free Wi-Fi, a common area with boardgames, books and magazines to borrow, a balcony on the second floor with an incredible view of the town's rooftops, free coffee every morning and an incredible staff. Casa Ariki has 4 private rooms that are very comfortable and spacious, with A/C and/or ceiling fan and cable TV in each room. U$30 per couple and U$10 per extra person. (info@casaariki.com)  edit
  • Latin Latitudes Bed & Breakfast, Km. 12 Camino Ostional (Playa el Yankee), 505 8 671 9698, [23]. This B&B offers guests beautiful ocean views within a peaceful setting of tropical gardens, coastal forests and pristine beaches. Full breakfast included. Lunches & dinners available at reasonable cost. Rooms with private and shared baths from $40. Canadian owners.  edit
  • Surf Ranch Resort (Surf Ranch Resort), San Juan Del Sur (San Juan Del Sur), (505) 8816-8748, [24]. checkin: 2pm; checkout: 10am. The Surf Ranch Resort is located in San Juan Del Sur. Stay with them for as little as $50 a night for 2, in a condo room, breakfast included. The resort features a pool, swim up bar, restaurant, billiards, volleyball court, tower drop to airbag, trampoline, rock climbing wall, the largest skate park in Nicaragua, along with condos and villas. They also offer free shuttles to and from town and the beaches. $50.  edit
  • Surf Zone. Surf Zone is set around a swimming pool, with gardens and an open plan chill-out area. There are 3 main options: Bed & Board, Surf Camps and Venue Hire. 5 minutes from Playa Maderas. From $45.  edit

Splurge[edit]

  • Bahia del Sol, [25]. Villas and condominiums are within walking distance of the beach in the best residential neighborhood in San Juan del Sur with spectacular views of the bay. Rent by the day, week, or month all of them fully equipped. The two story villas are the epitome of luxury and space. Three bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a big dining table and large terraces let large families or a group of friends spend time together with comfort and privacy. The complex includes a private pool and full hotel service.  edit
  • Brianna's Surf House, playa madera (12.kil north of San Juan Del Sur), (505)888-72933, [26]. This amazing two bedroom (a/c), one bath beach house is like no other. The house sleeps seven with ease, has full kitchen, living room, huge patio with four hammocks, water tank, secure, gen back-up, weekly linen service and private parking. The front door has a private entrance to madera beach. After walking two minutes you are in the ocean. Walk another five minutes and you are at Los Playones, famous for surfing. The back door beach is magical manajual. It is another two minute walk. Howler monkeys and turtles are abundant to view from house. This community is very private with a total of just seven houses. The beach house may be rented by day or night, weekly or by month. $50-150.  edit
  • Hotel Gran Oceano (Hotel Gran Oceano), (1/2 block from the bay & 2 blocks from the Park), 505-568-2219 / 505-935-7034 (), [27]. Del parque, 2 c hacia el mar. Among the nicest. They also arrange boat trips. Price is higher in high season and includes tax and breakfast. Low season $52/1 bed, $60/2 beds.  edit
  • Hotel Villa Isabella, Diagonal Norte Iglesias Catolica San Juan del Sur Rivas, Nicaragua, Nicaragua-2568-2568 USA-970-744-2082, [28]. checkin: 3:00PM; checkout: Noon. Hotel with nine bedrooms and four 1-2 bedroom condominium apartments, with full breakfast included. Free Wi-Fi, free phone calls to the USA and Canada, a courtyard swimming pool, window screens and quiet air conditioners, private baths, hot water showers, and bath tubs. Cable TV and VHS/DVD with a large selection of movies in English and Spanish. Secure parking. Handicapped access. $65-150.  edit
  • La Veranera (info@laveranera.net), Playa EL Coco (30 minutes South of San Juan), (00505) 83286260, [29]. La Veranera is a boutique guesthouse located on the white sands of Playa El Coco. Designed like an old Nicaraguan ranch house it is equipped with all modern conveniences. The wide veranda with dining area, billiard table and private bar, wraps around a crystal clear, blue tiled pool, Just steps away from an uncrowded beach, this is the perfect place to get away from it all.  edit
  • Lazy Jakes Guesthouse, Playa Madera's and Playa Marsella, www.lazyjakes.com, [30]. Located minutes from the major surfing beach Playa Maderas & walking distance to the quiet secluded beach Playa Marsella. 15 minutes drive from the village of San Juan del Sur. Lazy Jakes Guesthouse offers accommodations between $45-75US night. Clean & secure rooms, A/C optional, very friendly hosts.  edit
  • Rayito de Luna, (Middle of the bay, one block from the beach), +50586587797. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Private home with rooms for rent. Amazing view, Swimming pool, Secure indoor parking, Wireless Internet, all rooms have A/C, guests are welcome to use the kitchen, access to refridgerator & bbq, bring your own charcoal/food/drinks. Call number above, or search for Rayito de Luna on Facebook.  edit
  • Parque Maritimo el Coco, reservaciones@playaelcoco.com.ni (18 kilometers south of San Juan del Sur), (+505) 8999-8069, [32]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: noon. Offers billas from four to ten guests. Right on Playa el Coco a quiet and secluded beach. Also has a restaurant, Puesta del Sol. US$92 for four persons.  edit

Cope[edit]

San Juan del Sur has a free Health Clinic (Centro do Salud) located near the entrance to town (Tel +505 2568-2320). The Police Station is located on the beachfront road, 75m north of the the port (Tel +505 2568-2382). The Fire Station "Bomberos de San Juan del Sur" is located in the Complejo Centro Civico (Tel +505 8993 4797 or +505 2568 3015). The local community newspaper - written in both English and Spanish is Del Sur News [33] and San Juan Live [34] is a local lifestyle website.

Get out[edit]

To leave, head to the market to get a bus or taxi to Rivas.

In Rivas, there are buses south (to the Costa Rica border), north to Managua, Granada (Nicaragua) or Masaya or west to Popoyo

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!




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